Buckle in. It’s a long one.
I have given myself a week to ruminate on the things I saw and experienced during my first overnight exploration of Waverly Hills Sanatorium in Louisville, Kentucky. As a Kentucky native I have longed for years to visit Waverly, but never seemed to make the time to do so. This year, however, things changed. Covid has kept me from traveling the way that I normally would, and it also marked two years since I’ve spent time with my closest friends. Thankfully Mandi, who you may know as my most frequent travel partner, was able to travel here from Vancouver and we planned a Kentucky “staycation”. It happened to coincide with Waverly’s first set of overnights and tours during the month of October, a change made to take the place of their usual haunted house. Covid definitely changed things for all of us, but the timing was absolutely perfect.
So we booked the tickets.
In the weeks leading up to the big night, I ordered some proper equipment to take along. I purchased my very first EMF reader, as well as a set of proper dowsing rods (which I had never used before). We also ended up visiting an occult shop for some sage, just to be on the safe side when we left the building. You can never be to careful when spirits and other entities are involved, right?
The night before our overnight I consulted my Lenormand cards, and asked if I would have an experience at Waverly. My cards told me that, yes, I would, specifically with a man and a child. They also told me to have an open mind, but to proceed there with caution.
Those cards were so, so right and I had no idea at the time just how right they would prove to be.
On the day of we were able to check into our hotel room at 1 p.m., and spent the day relaxing. We got some sleep in the late afternoon/early evening, and then ate some dinner. We left for Waverly at about 11:15, and it was just about 15 minutes away. If you plan to do one of these, they will NOT let you up the hill until the designated time. Honestly the worst part of the night was the parking situation, as folks who were there for the Halloween relay had not all departed, and were still using up the parking spots designated for the 65 of us who were doing the overnight. I digress though, as we finally got parked and were able to head inside.
I’m going to gloss over the particulars and just say that everyone at Waverly was super accommodating. We were allowed to visit the gift shop BEFORE the start of our evening, and then we were given the rules for being in the building. It was all very basic, but the thing you really need to adhere to is no flashlights and limited flash photography. Letting your eyes adjust to the dark is the best way to see something, and people constantly shining lights around could really ruin the experience. We were given a brief tour of the floors, and then could explore at our leisure or join the guides who were with us.
My friend and I spent the majority of the night on our own. I’m glad we did, because we seemed to get better experiences when there wasn’t a crowd. Understandable, because even the dead don’t want to cater to a huge group. Our first try for contact was on the 2nd floor, outside the room that had belonged to sisters Audrey and Lois. We didn’t get much from them, but we did begin to encounter a male spirit there who would follow is throughout the evening. We actually made contact with him in the nearby solarium, where the dowsing rods went absolutely nuts. The spirit we spoke with later on we believe was this same man.
Our best contact of the night took place downstairs in the auditorium, which is the area where we began our tour and everyone met up for the night. We initially went into this room to test out a light up motion activated cat ball we had brought along. That ultimately failed, so we settled in with the ghost box to see if we could reach anyone. We kept picking up the word ‘brother’ over and over again, and then we finally asked who we were speaking to. We got the name ‘Neil’ very clearly. We asked him what his brothers name was, and he told us ‘Bob’. We spoke to him for a bit, telling him we were just there to visit and didn’t mean any ill will or to disturb him. When we prepped to leave the room and told him goodbye we got ‘don’t go’, and when we insisted we must he asked us ‘why’?
It was sad. It just…broke my heart, for reasons I couldn’t really explain then and still can’t. Just the heaviness of the place overwhelmed me, and I cried as we headed deeper into the building to try to see what else we could find.
Ended up stepping out into the second floor smoking area and talking to some other folks and a couple of the guides. They had all experienced a loud boom and strange lights from the third floor above them, but the folks on the third floor had seen nothing. Someone else named off things they had picked up on their spirit box which included the word ‘Canada’ (which freaked us out because Mandi is Canadian), and ‘cat’. That sparked an interesting conversation, because we had also gotten the word cat. The guide informed us that two cats had been roaming the building for ages, but had recently been re-homed with another guide. Perhaps the spirits are missing their kitties!
A view of the children’s brain TB ward on the 5th floor. Down the 4th floor hallway, where you’re most likely to see shadow people. From the 2nd floor smoking air, one of the intimidating gargyoles.
Our next best contact was made on the 5th floor. Mandi had been saying for weeks that she really wanted to contact Sarah, the nurse who supposedly committed suicide by hanging, especially since we watched the TFIL series about Waverly where we heard Sarah’s real story for the first time. When the crowd thinned we brought out the ghost box, and Mandi told Sarah she was there to speak to her. We immediately got ‘I’ve been waiting’ as a response. When we asked for permission to enter room 502, the same female voice told us very bluntly ‘don’t go in’.
We continued to try and speak to Sarah, picking up bits and pieces of a soft and whispery female voice from the ghost box. Words like ‘killed me’ and choking sounds. A strong willed male voice kept interrupting though, telling us to go, telling Sarah no, and other such things. When Mandi asked if he was the man who killed Sarah, we got a very loud and VERY clear ‘fuck off’ from the machine. I then, in a fit of anger, told HIM to eff off. I was then also told to ‘fuck off’, very sternly and loudly.
It was then that we crossed to the children’s pulmonary ward, where we sat down to try and talk to a child who we kept hearing break through on the ghost box. She kept saying hi to us over and over and over. I told them I had brought them something and it was in my bag. The voice immediately said ‘ball’ very excitedly, which amazed me because I had taken the ball out on the 2nd floor but not at all since coming upstairs. I said yes, and took it out and lit it up. I rolled it across the floor, and asked if they liked it.
A resounding “nahhhh”.
I got dissed by a ghost kid.
We picked up more random words and bits here, but very distinct ones. ‘Nurse’, ‘baby’, ‘brain’, ‘breathe’, and gasping sounds were heard. We were on the pulmonary side, but across the way was the brain tuberculosis ward for children, so some of the words were very relevant considering.
We spoke to Sarah one more time, and then headed back downstairs. We participated in a group experience with the shadow people on floor four, and while I saw some shadows Mandi did not. One of them was the tall man, who gave me the ever loving creeps, but more on him later.
We stopped on the third floor to poke around, and were outside of a set of patient rooms when the word ‘rape’ came over the machine, and when Mandi questioned it a voice called her a ‘stupid cunt’.
Needless to say, we left that area pretty quickly.
Finally we went back to the second floor and returned to where we had met Neil. We spoke to him again, asking him if he was from Kentucky. The answer? “Yeah”. There was a good thirty seconds of silence, when the same voice then says “Louisville”. Further questions about his brother were met with silence. Then some folks joined us, so we went quiet for a bit. When they left we were about to leave too, when we heard a cough. Not from the ghost box, but from right beside us.
We were alone in the area, including no one in the hallway. I know this because I checked quickly with my flashlight on. The person who was there with us was not alive, but very distinctly heard. That was wild, let me tell you. We also found out during this session that he worked at Waverly, and “kind of” died there.
It was getting into the very wee hours now, and we decided to check out some other areas again. I turned on my GoPro this time, despite it being pitch dark, and kept it on as we went through the double doors at the end of the hallway and headed back towards Lois and Audrey’s room. We had just passed the solarium and some other investigators, when something caught my eye to the right. I looked over and there, in the doorway, stood the tall man. He was as high as the ceiling and darker than dark. Like a blackness I could never have imagined. Fight or flight took over then, and I lost the next minute or two as I turned and bolted back the other way without a word. You can pick this interaction up on video I took, as my voice is shaky as I apologize to someone I ran into and keep going.
Below is the video clip I took when I saw the tall man. It’s mostly dark, and not very interesting to look at. As far as I know there’s no strange voices or anything in the clip, but you can tell when I see him for sure. You hear me shuffle and then start moving fast, and my voice is shaking as I say I’m sorry to the kid I almost ran over. View if you want, but it’s really not interesting since YOU can’t see what I saw.
We ended up sitting in the break room where there was some light and a moment of calm. We decided to check out the first floor quickly, and then call it a night. It was nearly 6 a.m. at this point, and though we were allowed to stay until 6:30 the combination of events had me reeling. We poked our heads in downstairs, then returned to the second floor to let someone know we were leaving. AJ, one of the guides, ran up to us and asked if we’d heard a scream from downstairs. We told him we had not, and he radioed security that we were leaving before he ran down to check it out. Later on we would find a video posted on a Facebook group from those who DID hear the scream, and it was VERY audible. Just…wow.
We saged in the parking lot and then went to the hotel to get sleep. I’ve been thinking about Waverly nonstop ever since. I want to go back, badly, as we were able to piece things together about Neil after returning home. A long search online lead us to the following facts, which we did speak to Waverly about because we felt it was something that others should know.
Brother Joseph O’Neil was a real man, who was the chaplain at Waverly for 33 years. He was there when they broke ground on the hospital, and he worked there until he died. He was legally blind, but knew the layout of the building so well he could visit patients in their rooms. He had a brother named Robert (Bob) O’Neil. He did die at Waverly, but not of TB. He had a stroke there, and died 16 days later.
We kept asking him if he was trying to find his brother, and got no answer. He wasn’t talking about his brother (who did name for us when we asked), but that he WAS a Brother. We were also not clearly picking up on the O in O’Neil. The real Brother O’Neil was born in Louisville, and subsequently passed away there. He told us this himself, over the spirit box. I think he may still be there shepherding other lost souls, trying to help those who need to be helped and saved. It was his life’s work, after all, and he is still a dedicated man of God.
As for the nasty spirit who cussed at us and called us names…who knows. It could be one of many people there, especially one spirit they have who loves to pick on women. The tall man…well, if I ever make it back, I hope I don’t see him again, let’s say that.
Below is a list of the most clear words and sounds we got from the ghost box.
Hi (child’s voice)
I’ve been waiting (breathy woman’s voice)
Don’t go in (we got this answer when we asked Sarah if we should go into room 502)
No (man outside of room 502)
Get out (man outside of room 502)
Leave ( man outside of room 502)
Tom (Tom showed up a few times, he’s a known spirit there)
Medic (we got this answer on the 3rd floor when we picked up Wayne/Seth)
There was also the audible cough that we hears in the room with us
Overall, my time in Waverly can not be entirely defined in words. It is also defined by feelings and emotions. I can never properly convey those on paper or in the written word at all. Just suffice to say that I went in a believer, and came out believing even more. I believe that a lot of people are trapped in Waverly, unable or unwilling to let go, and that some other things have been potentially attracted there because of it. I believe that the folks who work there are real and genuine in their cause, and that Waverly is a place where the living are tolerated but the dead continue to move freely.
I will return. I’m not sure when, but I know that I will. How could I not? I want Brother O’Neil to know that I know who he is, that he is remembered, and that we are so glad he spoke to us. I want to spend more time on the first floor which, I admit, scared the hell out of me and is part of the reason why we largely ignored it that night. Not the body chute or really the morgue, those are just rooms, but a certain hallway and the lobby area felt so heavy to me, like the kind of heavy that makes it hard to even breathe.
Those six hours only scratched the surface for me. There is so much more waiting at Waverly that I need to experience.